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Volume 6, Issue 4 (1977)

Some Personal Reflections on the Changing Role of the School Psychologist as Child Advocate

pp. 6—10

Having been indicted for our child advocacy practices, we would like to relate some personal experiences to illustrate problems in the psychologist’s role as an advocate. Some time ago when we admonished a group of teachers for publicly and frequently exchanging gossip about their pupils and families, they considered us obnoxious. When we wrote a series of articles criticizing the New Jersey State Department of Education for allowing inadequately trained personnel to practice on children, we were branded controversial. When we refused to diagnose a child according to an administrator’s wishes, we were called malcontents. When informing parents of ways to fight our employer’s decision to deny mandated services to handicapped children, we were told we behaved unethically. When we refused to discuss the contents of a therapy hour with the mother (who had a history of child abuse) of a 14-year-old client, we were reprimanded for being unprofessional because the school and the mother (not our minor client) were legally protected. In each of these cases we were criticized by our colleagues; now these activities might be considered legitimate activities of child advocates. These experiences illustrate the changing character of the problems school psychologists face in the areas of confidentiality, training, placement, and due process rights for children. What then is the position of the school psychologist today in child advocacy?

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